Motorworld’s newspaper №78

In 1940 the Moto-Gilera company started, under a defense contract, the production of motorized transportation vehicles for military applications. Their prototype was the LTE model with its L-head, 499-cc, 10-h.p. motor. The three-wheel, cargo-carrying modification was called Mercurio.

A cargo platform with wooden sideboards was affixed to the motorcycle frame right behind the driver seat. This modification featured a cardan drive and all-metal wheels.

The tricycle turned out to be reliable and powerful, it was powered by the same engine as the Gilera Saturno, but with a 90 ° rotated cylinder. The transmission had 4 speeds with a reverse. The cargo platform was mounted on an automobile chassis. Almost 1,000 copies were produced for the Italian Army (July 1943), which operated them for only 2 months, until Italy withdrew from the war. After returning to Italy, they were used by the ISR (Italian Social Republic). Gilera produced only one model of a cargo tricycle for military purposes, and Moto Guzzi produced two: ER and 600U . Remotely similar models were produced by Sertum (model 500 M.C.M. 06) and Bianchi (model 500 M.C.U.).

Moto Guzzi E.R. from «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

Moto Guzzi 600U from «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

Mercurio motor had the same capacity as LTE—499 cc, but it got more powerful with its 18 h.p. at 4100 rpm. Beside the 500-cc motor option, there was a Mercurio model produced featuring the 600-cc motor. The tricycle’s load-carrying capacity was 1500 kg. The large cargo bed of the Mercurio was used for transporting heavy machine guns, mortar launchers and ammunition. The military version of the motorcycle also had camouflage lighting and a spare wheel.

Gilera Mercurio tricycles were popular after the war, too. They were sold to civilians for about 20 years, until 1963.

Manufacturer Moto-Gilera, Milan (Italy)
Years of manufacture 1940 – 1962
Quantity produced, units  1000
Today’s value
Type 4-stroke type, single-cylinder, L-head
Engine capacity, cc 499
Bore and stroke, mm 84 х 90
Engine rating 18 h.p. at 4100 rpm
Sparking Magneto, Marelli MLA 42
Carburetor Dell’Orto MC26F
Battery 6 V
Clutch Dry, double-plate
Transmission 4-speed
Frame type Tubular, welded
Front suspension Parallelogram, reinforced with stamped metal
Rear suspension Leaf springs
Brakes Drum-type, at both front and rear wheels
Wheel size Front wheel: 3.50 х 19
Rear wheel: 6.0 х 16
Length, mm
3 560
Width, mm
1 500
Height, mm
2 070
Wheelbase, mm
2 230
Ground clearance, mm
Seat height, mm
Mass, kg
Gas tank size, l
Maximum speed, km/h
Range, km

* – Data from the results of the measurement of the “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov” exhibit.